June 2015 - Baby Tula Blog

June 2015 Archive

Castles and Ice Cream! Tula Love, the Edinburgh Way!

 

We are thrilled to be on the road for our annual summer trip to Poland. This year, the first stop was in Scotland… and what better way to spend a morning in Edinbugh than with Tula families?!

Scottish Tula Mamas member Susi O’Brien explained that, while Scottish Tula fans often chat online via Facebook, there had never been a Tula meet up in Edinburgh before… but when they learned that the Tula Family would be in town, it was a must-do!

The perfect itinerary for the day included a walk in the beautiful Princes St Gardens just below the Castle followed by a casual playdate near the park and ice cream stand. Although the playdate occurred on short notice and was relatively small, the energy was amazing!

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Susi writes: “I think one of the lovely things about the Edinburgh Tula meet up was how it demonstrated how baby or toddler slings can aid parenting and help to make any kind of playdate or parenting meet up go much more smoothly. All of us carrying were able to chat and relax whilst walking, knowing that our children were secure and happily looking around and about with interest. My toddler son was snuggled into my shoulder as always  as he watched all the people and scenery go past. There were no tears or tantrums from any of them. We could also go up and down steps, across grass, down slopes, and anywhere we liked without the hassle of using a buggy. And even when Tula-time was over and the toddlers got out to play, it is SO much easier to scramble after an exploring one year old with empty carrier on your back rather than trying to keep hold of a buggy at the same time!”

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The sun was warm and the smiles were many. From an on-the-spot babywearing coaching session to many oohs and ahhhs and the giggles of happy children, thank you so much to the lovely parents of Scottish Tula Mamas for the incredible welcome and we hope we will have a chance to visit again in the future! Thank you for sharing with us all about how #tulabuildscommunities around the world!  We are humbled to share in a day of love in your community!

Care and Carriers: Breastfeeding while Babywearing

Breastfeeding while Babywearing

Whether you are a first time mama learning how to nurse your baby for the first time, an adoptive parent building a breastfeeding relationship, or a caregiver offering your little one a pumped or prepared bottle… no matter your circumstances, you know how special that relationship with your little one is! One of the most beneficial things about babywearing is that it offers you the opportunity to provide care and comfort for your little one while on the go. Isn’t it amazing that you can provide sustenance as well? And there is value to feeding your little one on the go as well! Read on to learn more about why breastfeeding and babywearing is the perfect match for supporting your nursing relationship and your (and baby’s) health and wellbeing, and how to successfully breastfeed in your carrier!

WHY?

Breastfeeding has been shown to come with a number of benefits.  For the child, it can mean lowered chances of developing allergic diseases, childhood infections and illnesses, type 1 diabetes, and obesity for the baby, and other things. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased likelihood of postpartum depression, smaller chance of developing health conditions including breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.  Breastfeeding even results in economic savings for the family.

Additionally, there are a host of benefits to babywearing, including (but not limited to) cognitive and social skill development, emotional connection and bonding between caregiver and child, benefits to immunity for the child, and even stress relief for the caregiver!   These benefits are available to all who choose to babywear; mother, father, foster parent, adoptive parent, grandparents, or even siblings can help baby get their best start in life through the use of a carrier and cuddles!

For those who struggle with breastfeeding, babywearing has been shown to help. According to Dr. Sears, babywearing organizes problem suckers. He explains that some babies just nurse better on the go, because their bodies are able to relax when they are in the comforted motion of being in a carrier, which in turn allows the muscles they use to relax as well. He specifically mentions that those who are tense or who arch their backs might benefit from breastfeeding on the go.

Babywearing also helps baby by placing him or her close to the source of milk. Studies show that placing baby skin-to-skin right away can help support a more effective and synchronous nursing relationship with positive milk production and infant weight gain. This means that the proximity created by babywearing can help baby to gain weight more quickly, encourage the baby to feed more frequently, and help mother to response to cues more frequently.

An upright position is also helpful for digestion. The physiological process of digesting food involves a wave of contractions intended to help to move food through the digestive system. When remaining in an upright position, gravity can help to assist this series of contractions, called peristalsis. Research also suggests that maintaining baby’s head higher than feet allows the infant to have more control of their meal or liquid, which can decrease the risk of choking.

Knowing all of this, are you ready to combine the benefits of babywearing and breastfeeding?

HOW:
Before you Begin

First and foremost, there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind while nursing or bottlefeeding your child in a carrier, especially in the first 4 months or anytime baby’s airway could be vulnerable, such as while eating. Since the intent of a baby carrier is to help facilitate the same positioning that your baby would have while in your arms, it is important to always keep your baby close enough to kiss with his or her chin off of his chest. Make sure that there is enough space between your little one’s chin and chest to put 1-2 adult fingers, in order to protect his or her delicate airway, and remain attuned to your little one – check on him or her often! – making sure to reposition as needed to ensure optimal positioning of your baby.

Now that these safety tips have been highlighted, we can get on to the name of the game – how can I feed my baby successfully in a carrier?

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To begin with, we’d recommend learning the two separate (and occasionally challenging!) skills of breastfeeding and babywearing independently of one another, then combining to practice them together at home once you feel you have them down. This allows you to ensure that your little one is calm and not hungry when you first are trying this new skill, and also for you to get support from a partner or a fresh set of eyes to troubleshoot, if need be. This also helps build confidence so that, the first time you do it on the go, you feel like a rock star!

What to Wear

Once you feel like you’re ready to go, consider your wardrobe carefully before heading off on your adventure. Since you won’t be able to remove any clothing while your child is attached in a carrier, having something flexible can be very useful! A stretchy neckline or v-neck shirt is a great choice, if you are comfortable with nursing above your top. Some mothers choose not to unclip their undergarments, but instead to pull the breast out on top of them, using the top edge of the bra to create a supportive shelf to keep the breast properly placed. Other mamas who are more amply endowed may choose to bring a small receiving blanket to roll up tightly and rest underneath the breast for support assistance. Still other mothers prefer to layer shirts, pulling the top shirt up and keeping a bottom shirt or camisole around their body to remain covered.   This strategy works well, but keep in mind that it’s a good idea to “pre-lift” the top shirt in advance of putting the baby in the carrier, as this makes it much easier to initiate getting ready to latch your little one.

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In a Carrier

If you are wearing an ergonomic buckle carrier, there are a couple of things you can do to prepare your carrier for feeding your child. Since the Tula carrier is adjustable both under the arms and in the front, support your child’s weight with one arm to remove tension from the webbing, while adjusting the webbing to the appropriate length. Ideal placement for breastfeeding means that baby’s mouth should be at the nipple to ensure a clear airway. You may need to loosen your waist belt slightly to move the carrier lower onto your hips, in addition to slight adjustments to the shoulder straps. Keep in mind that your child will still need to be securely attached and close to your body – the intent of these adjustments is simply to move his or her center of gravity slightly downward so that his or her tummy is nearer to yours, and nipple and mouth are aligned.

Our friend Rachel Parker shares how she breastfeeds in her Tula Baby Carrier:

In a Sling or Wrap

If you are nursing in a ring sling, we recommend gently lifting and supporting your baby’s weight with one arm while loosening the rings slightly with the other hand, as is shown at the end of our instructional video. It is important to maintain the tummy-to-tummy position and keep knees higher than bottom in a deep M-position throughout the time that you are nursing in the ring sling, and that you re-position baby at the appropriate height when he or she is done.

In order to ensure that this carry is properly executed, make sure that baby’s weight is safely resting in the hammock of the sling and that there is adequate tension to hold in the appropriate position, with mother’s nipple at mouth level. It is important to also ensure that your arm is fully capped by the sling shoulder and that top and bottom rails are tightened correctly so that baby’s hammock seat continues to be maintained with knees above bottom as you nurse your little one.

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Some caregivers may choose to move their baby into a cradle position that emulates in-arms cradle hold breastfeeding. If you choose to use a carrier in this position, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced babywearing educator who can help you to perfect this expert position, which can be challenging to master safely and successfully.

Latching and Nursing

As you latch your little one, make sure that he or she is keeping his or her chin off of her chest (you should be able to fit between 1-2 adult fingers underneath his or her chin) and that baby’s nose is free to ensure a clear airway.  While it is important to ensure that your baby’s head is fully clear of the top of the fabric so that there is no pressure pushing baby’s chin forward toward his or her chest, you will gently support the back of your little one’s neck or head with one hand and hold your breast for the latch, just as you would when nursing your child at home. While breastfeeding in a carrier can be helpful, your child’s safety is ALWAYS first priority, and oftentimes this skill is not truly hands free (as your hands may be needed to support your baby, breast, or a bottle), but just helps to make it a bit easier and mobile.

It’s also critical to ensure that you have eyes on your little one at all times. Your little one’s face should not be covered from view at any time to ensure that he or she gets adequate air, and must be clear of any possible obstructions, including blankets, carrier accessories, nursing covers, or hats. While you may choose to use a cover or other method to maintain privacy, you should always be able to see your baby’s face while breastfeeding, so that you can attend to your baby’s safety. Also, listen to your child while he or she is nursing: snoring, grunting, or other noises can be an indicator of distressed breathing, and you should unlatch and reposition if these things occur, or if you visually notice an obstructed airway for any reason, or that baby’s chin has fallen to his or her chest.

The bottom line is that combining babywearing and feeding your little one can be incredibly empowering, beneficial to both you and baby, and enable you to successfully attend to your children while on the go.

FINAL TIPS:

  1. Be ready – know the hows and whys
  2. Be safe – keep in mind that your baby should be close enough to kiss and you should have your eyes on him or her at all times
  3. Be confident – know that you are giving your child the greatest gifts: love, nourishment, and the best start to a healthy life
  4. Be patient – give yourself room and time to learn, and if you get frustrated, take a break, reconnect with your baby, and do something else that makes you happy
  5. Be motivated – find your support team, and explain to them why this is important… and have them bring out their pom poms if necessary!
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The Fathers of Tula

Team Tula would be remiss if we didn’t take some time to celebrate the dads who make Tula possible – and so, in honor of Father’s Day and without further ado, we introduce some of the daddies behind the magic at Tula…

Mike is papa to Amelia (8), Julian (6), and Leo (2). His all time favorite pastimes are attending Julian’s soccer games to cheer him on from the sidelines and heading to the beach to catch some early surfing.  Mike’s favorite carrier is The Star Tula, and he’s shown here wearing Tula Love Vogue.
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David is daddy to Xander (5) and Jasper (2). David loves to perform on stage – his most memorable performance was last year’s Les Miserables, in which he portrayed Jean Valjean – and play computer games, but his favorite thing to do is cross-country travel by train with the family. He loves soft structured carriers best, especially his toddler Cloudy Tula.
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Erik’s daughter Emma is 4. Erik loves outdoor activities such as snowboarding, and enjoys brewing beer. His favorite carrier is a toddler Tula because it allows him the freedom to wear his daughter comfortably when she gets tired of walking or hiking.  Here he’s wearing a full toddler Didymos Pink Dots Tula.
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Eddie, father to Remi (4) and Oslo (13 months), enjoys tinkering in various hobbies including brewing and scooters. Eddie loves ring slings for the newborn stage, and Tula ergonomic carriers when the kids start to get a little bit bigger.  He’s shown here wearing Click.
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Dalin is dad to Veda (5), Ivy (3) and Jove (1). In his spare time he loves to play guitar and video games, collect toys, watch movies, read books, work on the house, and go on dates with his wife (not necessarily in that order). According to his wife, he also enjoys making perler bead characters made from 8-bit video game sprites. Fleet is his favorite Tula, because he loves the blue digi camo print.  He’s shown below wearing a Girasol Symphuo Rojo Tula Wrap Conversion.
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Brian’s children are Malia (4) and Mason (10 months). In his spare time, he loves surfing, surfing, and surfing. His carrier of choice is Mockingbird Nightfall. He loves his Tulas because it is easy to put on with no fuss, and Mason is guaranteed to be happy while being worn.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tula dads… and to all of the fathers out there!  We couldn’t appreciate you more for all that you do!

The Physical Benefits of Babywearing
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Comfort, social and neurological development, and emotional well-being: these are among the many benefits to a baby worn in a carrier – but did you know that ergonomic babywearing also helps to benefit your child physically as well? From a physical perspective, babywearing has a number of benefits. Many babywearers are already familiar with oft-cited kangaroo care research, which shows that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster, but in fact babywearing benefits all babies physically, both preterm and term.

Dr. Bill and Martha Sears explain that babywearing helps babies to exercise their vestibular system, a system which utilizes parts of the inner ear to control the body’s sense of balance.  According to Sears and Sears, this stimulation helps babies “breathe and grow better, regulates their physiology, and improves motor development.” Dr. Sears adds that babywearing has been shown to enhance visual and auditory alertness, and the closeness of interactions with the caregiver (as occurs during babywearing) has been shown to additionally promote healthy development optimal function of other physiological systems.  That’s right – babywearing helps your baby’s balance and health get off to a great start!

Babywearing also allows for appropriate support of your child’s physiological positioning as he or she grows. Chiropractor Dr. Casses explains that babies are born with two so-called kyphotic curves in their spine – one at mid-back, and a second at the base of their spine. This appears as a C-shaped curve in the baby’s spine. As your little one develops strength in his neck and is able to begin to lift his head, the curve in the cervical spine begins to develop, followed by the curve in the lumbar spine later in development as the baby begins to crawl. This development enables an adult’s body to handle the stresses of gravity once he or she is walking in an upright position. It is important that the carrier being used adequately supports this healthy spine development, which means that babies should be placed in a position which supports the neck and back and ergonomically dissipates weight through the hips and legs in order to relieve pressure from the baby’s spine and hips as it develops. Wearing your baby in the proper positioning can actually help promote healthy spine development by supporting these phases as your baby gets stronger!

This position, which is demonstrated in Tula’s instructional videos for carrier, ring sling, and woven wrap, appears as a seated M-position, with knees higher than bottom, and weight supported throughout thighs and bottom, and resting in the hammock of the carrier, and with the spine adequately supported throughout. In this M-position, the carrier should not reach beyond baby’s knees, and your child should be able to dangle both knees freely down without any pressure on the insides of the calves. With any baby below 15 pounds, or any child not yet big enough for his or her legs to dangle freely at the knee, a ring sling or woven wrap is the perfect choice, or an infant insert must be used inside the ergonomic carrier.

These photos demonstrate optimal ergonomic positioning, with full support throughout the torso as developmentally appropriate, fabric supporting both the seat fully, and baby’s weight resting in the hammock of the carrier:wc-39surfpreview0287A baby that is worn in an upright position or carried in a variety of positions during waking hours also has a reduced risk of plagiocephaly due to less time being spent on their backs. Chiropractor Dr. Jeanne Ohm explains that plagiocephaly, which is where portions of the baby’s head become flattened, is not only cosmetic, but can lead to neurological concerns for the infant.   Carrying the child in an upright position can help to eliminate pressure on a small baby’s soft head.

It is worth noting that having a comfortable, ergonomic carrier is important for you, the caregiver, as well. Dr. Ohm adds that relaxin can remain in the mother’s system for months after birthing her baby. Relaxin, a hormone that is present throughout pregnancy, allows the ligaments in the pelvis to expand in order to open the birth canal for baby. Always, but especially while this hormone is present, it is important to be aware of what your body is telling you. Make sure that your carrier is adjusted comfortably and don’t be afraid to periodically reposition. Think of it as keeping yourself healthy so that you can be the best parent possible to your little one.  Generally speaking, it is a good idea to carefully adjust the settings on your carrier or wear your woven wrap or ring sling spread widely across your, neck, and shoulders for optimal comfort. Here are some of our tips for getting the perfect fit in your Tula carrier: properfit

From spine development to a sense of balance, the physical benefits of babywearing are many, so snuggle your little one close, knowing that you are giving your baby a head start on a strong, healthy body!


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Cassiopeia Guthrie is Tula’s Project Superhero and Conductor of Awesome. She brings over a decade of experience in education and a background in publicity, event management, educator training, and non-profit program administration to Team Tula. Cassiopeia has a passion for mentorship and support and a heart for service, and has been involved in the babywearing community since the birth of her older son, where she enjoys giving back by volunteering as a babywearing educator. Cassiopeia believes strongly in supporting others in gaining the skills and confidence to be successful babywearers or educators, and is an optimist who believes in integrity, ownership, kindness, and action.

Friendship and Smiles in Singapore
From roots in an apartment in Poland to a worldwide network, we are humbled to see how Baby Tula has helped build relationships, create communities of like-minded caregivers, and spark enjoyment in families. Singapore is a world away from the small town in Poland where Tula began… but the connection that local moms found with the Tula community was so compelling that Singapore Tula Love, supporting Singapore and Asia, was born!
Although a relatively new group, Singapore Tula Love has quickly grown to include over 2,200 members and 5 hardworking admins: Linda Mi, Michelle Dungao, Wendy Law, Hui Min Goh, and Cheryl Lai.  Regular meet ups and tip-sharing through the active Facebook group helps to create friendship and bonding between Singapore Tula Love members.  Founder and co-admin Linda Mi explains that meet ups bring new and old Tula owners together where they can visit, talk all things Tula including prints and fit, and allow their kids, ranging from 5 months to 4 years old, to play.  Members bring canvas Tulas and half and full wrap conversions so that others can try them on, and some even loan out their own personal Tulas to group members to take home!
 Christine Lu had this perspective: “As a first time mum, bringing my baby out alone was challenging.  I couldn’t imagine having to bring all of her necessities and carry her at the same time. I am so glad I found Tula;  they are so pretty with their prints prints and it supports my back well while I carry a diaper bag.  I can nurse on the go and allow my baby to have a nap by covering the hood.  I’m so thankful to have made many new friends in Tula Love and enjoy the greatness of being a mum and carrying her with me all the time.  Thank you, Tula.”
 Linda Loh also added, “Being a babywearer has helped me to bond with my baby.”
“When I chance upon another Tula mommy in public, we give each other a nod of approval,” said Sharinah Zain.  “It’s like meeting an old friend.”
Founder Linda Mi says, “The purpose of having Singapore Love is to spread Tula love;  we are happy that we have made many friends and the mamas are very close to one another.”
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We love to watch as #tulabuildscommunities and are so excited for Singapore Tula Love as they get ready for a big celebration coming up in August… their first anniversary!  Congratulations on your milestones, Singapore Tula Love, and keep sharing the babywearing love!